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South Korea's Political System

Following the 1987 Constitution, South Korea is a unified state, presidential republic (called the Sixth Republic). South Korean politics is personal, and the parties are loose coalitions. They are constantly disintegrating and new parties are being formed. Much of the most effective opposition in South Korea is based in the students, partly in the Christian churches.

Political System of South Korea

The head of state and the real political leader, the president, are elected in the general election for five years. The president cannot be re-elected, a provision that reflects the country's experiences of abuse of power and corruption. The president cannot dissolve the National Assembly, but can take matters directly to the referendum. He appoints the Prime Minister, but with the consent of the National Assembly. The President directs with the assistance of the Prime Minister, which includes the Prime Minister and between 15 and 30 other ministers and leaders of special institutions. Active officers in the country's armed forces cannot be members of the Cabinet.

Legislative power has been added to the National Assembly (Kuk Hoe), which has no less than 200 members elected in the general election for four years. The voting age is 19 years. 245 of the members are selected in individual circles, the rest according to the ratio method. In practice, the role of the assembly is somewhat limited, partly because it only sits in shorter sessions. The Assembly may recommend the President to set aside the Prime Minister and may decide to put the President to justice.

South Korea has been dominated by authoritarian governments. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how KR can stand for South Korea. The military seized power in 1961 and maintained it in reality until 1981, with constant change of leaders and widespread use of the state of emergency. Later, the board gradually became more liberal and democratic.

Administratively

Administratively, South Korea is divided into nine provinces (do) and seven urban provinces, and these again into districts and cities. Since 1961, the local units were controlled centrally by officials. In 1991, however, elections were held for the local assemblies, and a certain degree of local self-government was reinstated.

Judiciary

The country's highest court is the Supreme Court, with a Justice and up to 13 other judges. The Justice Minister is appointed by the President, with the consent of the National Assembly, for six years. He cannot be reappointed. The other judges are also appointed by the president for six years, but on a proposal from the Justice, and with the consent of the National Assembly. Furthermore, there are five appellate courts, 13 district courts in the major cities and 103 local courts which are the first instance judges. There is a family court and a court of administrative proceedings in Seoul, besides a separate constitutional court and military courts.

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